This time of year always makes me feel nostalgic. I loved the first few weeks of school. The teachers were new, the routine was familiar, and I was ready to learn after a relaxing and fun summer. This time of year also reminds me of how insanely hungry I was every day after school. As an adult, I’m not much of a snacker, but when i was a kid, an after-school snack was a must if I was going to make it until dinner.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of my favorite snack ideas to keep everyone happy.
First up is a classic: Ants on a Log. Of course, you can do it the traditional way with peanut butter and raisins, and you really can’t go wrong with that version. But, it you want to shake things up a bit, try spreading cream cheese on your celery, then dotting it with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. It’s delicious, different, and beautiful.
Another great snack option is a couple of these grain free chocolate chip peanut butter mini muffins. You can whip the batter together in the blender and the muffins bake in no time at all. A couple of these, whether they’re fresh from the oven or have been sitting in the fridge overnight, with a glass of milk is snack time perfection. They’re full of protein from the peanut butter, moist from the banana, and have a little chocolate-y sweetness from the mini chocolate chips. And, if your kiddo is allergic to peanuts, go ahead and substitute another nut butter, or even sunflower seed butter — your muffins will still be delicious. One word of caution with these muffins, though. They really don’t work well as full-sized muffins, and because they’re so small, you really do need to use mini chocolate chips. Regular chocolate chips are just too big for these little cuties.
Like the idea of a sweet after school snack, but don’t want to make mini muffins? How about frozen chocolate-covered banana chips? These are so easy and you can make a big batch of them on the weekend when the kids are around to help, then pack them in single serving snack bags in the freezer, so the kids can just pull them out of the freezer when they get home from school.
For these simple chocolate-covered delights, simply slice up some bananas (I allow half a banana per serving), place the slices on a tray or plate lined with wax paper, then freeze the banana slices for at least one hour. You want the bananas to be more or less frozen solid before you dip them in the chocolate. It just makes life easier. While the bananas are freezing, melt your chocolate. I happened to have some coating chocolate left from last Christmas, but you can use regular chocolate chips, too. Whichever you choose, use about 3/4 cup of chocolate for each banana. If you are using chocolate chips, the melted chocolate may be a little too thick for easy coating. Just add a teaspoon of coconut oil to the melted chocolate to make it easier to work with. Finely chop about 2 tablespoons of nuts and put them in a separate bowl. I used walnuts this time, but peanuts are also great here.
Once everything is ready, just dip the frozen pieces of banana into the melted chocolate, then place them on waxed paper and immediately top with the nuts. Place the banana chips back into the freezer to set thoroughly, then divide into individual servings for later use. If you don’t want to make banana chips, you can just cut the bananas in half and make banana pops, but I never have popsicle sticks on hand, so I prefer the banana chips.
Want another great make-ahead option to hold hungry students over until supper? Try my Power Balls. These last up to two weeks in the fridge, are incredibly filling, and infinitely customizable. They’re also really fun to make with kids.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like the classic sliced apple with peanut butter. It’s simple enough for even young children to whip up when they get home from school, and it has that whole sweet and savory thing going on, which is incredibly satisfying. To keep the peanut butter in a reasonable serving size, use a two-tablespoon cookie scoop to portion it. Kids can then dip their apple slices into a mound of peanut butter — and what’s more fun than that?